Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham - Post Mortem Dev Diary

Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham - Post Mortem Dev Diary

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Doomdark

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Well folks, Yuletide is almost upon us and the expansion Sons of Abraham has now been out for a few weeks. It is, in other words, a good time for some general - and possibly disorganized - "post mortem" thoughts.

Sons of Abraham is a special expansion because it's the first of the "phase 2" cycle of expansions for Crusader Kings II, and it was also mostly made by a new team who approached the game with new eyes and fresh ideas (the old team having moved on to another project.) The irrepressible Groogy (Henrik Hansson) championed the College of Cardinals and made it great, and Tobias "The Witch-King" Bodlund wrote most of the new events and the pilgrimages. Martin "Wiz" Anward took a crack at the AI and Alexander Ivannikov fixed bugs and started improving the network code. I couldn't quite keep my hands off though, so I snuck some crazy stuff in myself (something about evil babies...)

Interestingly, while this expansion really focuses on Christian gameplay, it appeared to receive the most attention for the playable Jews (in hindsight, the name Sons of Abraham was probably a tad misleading) and the fact that you can borrow money from the Jewish community only to then expel them from the realm. As you know, if you expel the Jews, you lose the benefits of having skilled Jewish councillors, and your dynasty loses the ability to borrow money, which will hurt you in the long run. Even so, this mechanic was something we knew would be controversial. However, I maintain that it was the right thing to do because the feature brings attention to a sordid chapter in European history while at the same time highlighting the learning, productivity and enterprising spirit of the Jewish communities.

To be perfectly honest, when designing Sons of Abraham, it was quite hard to determine which features should (and could!) go into the expansion and which features should be put into the free patch. This is always tough, and it reminded me a lot of Legacy of Rome, which, like SoA (not counting Jews) did not unlock a new type of playable entity. There were some things we really wanted to address and improve upon, but core gameplay changes are not suitable for an expansion; we want such things to be available for all players! The College of Cardinals, though, was perfect expansion material; it's not something you have to bother with at all, but it can definitely give you an edge and provide you with some interesting new options. In contrast, for example, terrain bottlenecks affect the game at a fundamental level and had to go into the patch.

In the end, we added a lot of rather unobtrusive features to the expansion, like pilgrimages and religious events. This is a bit of a catch-22, since non-essential features - regardless of how many there are or how much work they require - are not as sexy and eye-catching, but if we made them more central we could not put them in the expansion. What we've taken away from this conundrum is that future expansions will either have to unlock new areas of the game or feature more noticeable (graphically or through sheer weight of content) stuff.

Another lesson learned was the rocky launch of patch 2.0. As Paradox Development Studio grows, with several games and expansions in development at the same time, our quality assurance process is getting overloaded, and it is sometimes unbelievable what you folks discover in 10 minutes that our beta testers and QA team have not found in weeks. (That's why I love open beta patches and would like to rely on them more.) Anyway, we have hired more people for the QA team and will also increase the size of the beta test group; we don't release buggy games and have no intention of releasing buggy expansions either.

This brings me to the upcoming patch 2.0.2, which is currently available as an open beta patch to Steam users (which has already helped us identify a few more issues.) The main focus of this patch is to fix old bugs and annoyances, address some fundamental issues with antipopes and to flesh out the Jews a bit more. Here are the highlights (the full change log is in the beta patch post):
  • Added a "Depose Antipope" Casus Belli
  • Added an "Antiking" faction. The leader usurps the liege's primary title, deposes the antipope and passes papal investiture. The Pope can be called into the resulting war.
  • Jewish councillors now have special tech spread events
  • Now possible to play in Ironman mode with the ruler designer and mods (but you won't get achievements)
  • Significantly reduced the amount of event-spawned troops across the board to better reflect the rebalanced levies
  • Added trait "Battlefield Terrain Master"
  • Added special Jewish buildings
  • Added special Jewish retinue
To round this little dev diary off, as you probably know, we are dropping all support for the GamersGate version of the game after this patch. The GG version is too much trouble to maintain and is holding us back from having decent multiplayer, achievements for everyone, etc. GamersGate users need not despair however; we are hard at work getting Steam keys ready for you (including, of course, all DLC), and hope to have that done before year's end!

That's it for now, you can read all the devdiaries for CK2:SoA here! The next expansion will be announced in late January and the accompanying patch 2.1 will feature Steam Workshop and MP matchmaking, among many other things. Until next time, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! (And a special thanks to our beta testers and everyone who keeps Crusader Kings II development alive by buying the expansions!)
 
Last edited:

Voy

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Thank you for the information. I'm so happy we will finally be able to have Steam Wrokshop and MP on steam. Missed it dearly.
 

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Thanks for this update. As a user of the GG version I am looking forward to the steam version. I recently bought ToG and SoA. I realized that I want to get those dlcs I left out(SoI and LoR), which are no longer aviable on GG.

Crusader Kings II is the first paradoxgame I really love. I liked all of them, starting from EU II, which was my first game(actually it was HoI, but I never got into that game... too complex for me ;) ). But CKII is just perfect. Those dlcs made the game even better, especially ToG. I am really looking forward to the next dlc and of course to the next few patches.
 

Jeanguy17

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Could you define what you call the "phase 2"?

It's really nice to get these post mortems. Cheers! :)
 

unmerged(606777)

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You guys are ossim.

...Alexander Ivannikov fixed bugs and started improving the network code.
Haha. So Russia has infiltrated PDS. Good. Good. Everything is going according to the plan.


[*] Now possible to play in Ironman mode with the ruler designer and mods (but you won't get achievements)
Neat. Clarify please, you won't get achievments only when playing mods or also when using RD?
 

Doomdark

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Could you define what you call the "phase 2"?

It's really nice to get these post mortems. Cheers! :)
It simply means the second group of four expansions that we were not originally sure we would get the chance to do. I had a more sketchy design for these, and the final expansion in phase 2 is still not finalized.
 

Doomdark

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Neat. Clarify please, you won't get achievments only when playing mods or also when using RD?
You only get achievements if you run the game with the official checksum in Ironman mode, without using the ruler designer.
 

Aardvark Bellay

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.... I recently bought ToG and SoA. I realized that I want to get those dlcs I left out(SoI and LoR), which are no longer aviable on GG.......
They are still available, you only have to change display of "platforms" from "PC/Windows" to "All platforms". Reported the issue there.
 

Zolotaya

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I really appreciate the work that the new team members have done within this release. Groovy enabling the ruler designer and mods within the Ironman mode and Wiz's work on the ai and its approach to warfare are all excellent! I also am glad that members of the original team still insert their influence - this is another great thing.

I do worry that the focus on multiplayer and Ironman mode will be taken to the point that the single player experience will suffer or even be eventually abandoned. I understand that many people are addicted to the multiplayer experience and there are some that consider the multiplayer experience to be "superior" to the single-player experience. There are some that really prefer the single-player experience and see the industry-wide push towards multiplayer as being short-sighted and harmeful to the future of gaming. My hope is that Paradox will not abandon its single-player core within the games it publishes. My fear is that in the effort to expand and support multiplayer, achievements, etc will force the abandonment of the single-player experience, just as the effort at expanding and supporting these things has forced Paradox to abandon Gamers Gate.
 

DrLulz

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This is a bit of a catch-22, since non-essential features - regardless of how many there are or how much work they require - are not as sexy and eye-catching, but if we made them more central we could not put them in the expansion. What we've taken away from this conundrum is that future expansions will either have to unlock new areas of the game or feature more noticeable (graphically or through sheer weight of content) stuff.
Have you considered whether this limitation of the DLC-model - for I take it the old expansion model did not prevent you from putting "essential" new features into your games - is worth it?
I am not rabid anti-DLC, and I really like what the DLC's have done for CK2, but still I think this is a question worth asking - even more so, because it seems you are very quickly running out of "new areas of the game that can be unlocked".

An option you might take - and which you seem to have partially taking occasionally - is to add essential stuff for free in a patch implemented along with a new DLC, and hope that people buy the DLC even though the most important additions are in fact free. I wonder if this works / would work.

EDIT: Also, as always, Paradox' level of responsiveness / general communication with the community is magnificent. Which these post mortem dev diaries is a prominent example of. So thumbs up for that.
 

Aardvark Bellay

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..........

This brings me to the upcoming patch 2.0.2, which is currently available as an open beta patch to Steam users (which has already helped us identify a few more issues.) The main focus of this patch is to fix old bugs and annoyances,...
Little annoying are mistakes/bad wording in the german localisation and events text not full displayed or text overlapping.
Really minor issue, but please take care of that.

Another littel annoying bug (though i'm currently not sure if still in the current version) is that no money gets transfered to mayors if i need to bribe them at the "tax reducing" request event.

Thanks especially for all the little changes to the UI and AI in recent patches. Still room for even more though.:rolleyes: :D
 

Doomdark

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I really appreciate the work that the new team members have done within this release. Groovy enabling the ruler designer and mods within the Ironman mode and Wiz's work on the ai and its approach to warfare are all excellent! I also am glad that members of the original team still insert their influence - this is another great thing.
Well, I remain the project lead and designer, I just don't program much on CKII anymore. :)

I do worry that the focus on multiplayer and Ironman mode will be taken to the point that the single player experience will suffer or even be eventually abandoned. ...
Over my dead body. (Seriously, you need not worry about that. :) )
 

Doomdark

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An option you might take - and which you seem to have partially taking occasionally - is to add essential stuff for free in a patch implemented along with a new DLC, and hope that people buy the DLC even though the most important additions are in fact free. I wonder if this works / would work.
Well, that's exactly what we are doing. Every expansion for CKII has come with an almost equal amount of free features.
 

Zolotaya

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Well, I remain the project lead and designer, I just don't program much on CKII anymore. :)



Over my dead body. (Seriously, you need not worry about that. :) )
Getting such a strong assurance from you on this issue is awesome and something I will take to heart. Thanks for approaching my concerns head on. :wub:

Knowing some of the people (and knowing the quality of their work) involved with CK2 means I will support you during this title's entire life. Thanks again for all the work and effort you put into this project.
 

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I'm genuinely ecstatic that we can now use Ironman with mods and the Ruler Designer DLC. :) Are there any plans to extend this feature to EU4?
 

siis

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You only get achievements if you run the game with the official checksum in Ironman mode, without using the ruler designer.
I'm playing with the new beta patch and have the ruler designer dlc activated (but I haven't used the ruler designer ingame to desgin a ruler). I do get achievements. Is there some information when we do not get achievements in ironman?
 

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I'm playing with the new beta patch and have the ruler designer dlc activated (but I haven't used the ruler designer ingame to desgin a ruler). I do get achievements. Is there some information when we do not get achievements in ironman?
If you enable a mod or if you do use the ruler designer to design a ruler, then the achievements will be disabled. Having the ruler designer enabled alone will not disable the achievements.
 

zebez

Second Lieutenant
104 Badges
Jun 23, 2004
158
83
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Gettysburg
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • King Arthur II
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Lead and Gold
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Magicka
  • Majesty 2 Collection
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Naval War: Arctic Circle
  • Penumbra - Black Plague
  • Pirates of Black Cove
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Prison Architect
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Ancient Space
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Cities in Motion
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
  • Darkest Hour
  • Dungeonland
  • East India Company Collection
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
Interesting read. Hopefully you'll do beta patches for every patch in the future. Even the big dlc ones.